Carla Esparza sees a lot of similarities between herself and UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira’s rises.
Esparza will challenge Rose Namajunas for the women’s strawweight title at UFC 274 this weekend. The card is headlined by Oliveira, who is defending his own gold against Justin Gaethje. During a recent pre-fight press conference, Esparza explained how she sees a lot of similarities between herself and Oliveira.
In fact, Esparza reminded that Oliveira actually fought on the same card that she and Namajunas initially fought on in 2014.
“What’s funny is Oliveira headlined the first time that Rose and I fought that many years ago,” Carla Esparza said. “So I’m kinda like, ‘Oh, that’s cool.’
“But yeah, it’s been cool watching him actually grow through these years and seeing him come up in his division. And I think he had a similar long run to the title.”
Esparza and Namajunas initially fought at The Ultimate Fighter 20 Finale in 2014, where the inaugural 115-pound champion was crowned. Esparza actually ended up beating Namajunas via third-round submission to win the strap.
Oliveira co-headlined the card, defeating Jeremy Stephens at featherweight via unanimous decision. Since, Oliveira has gone on to rack up a 10-fight win streak, capturing the lightweight title and proving himself a dominant force at 155 pounds. Esparza admitted that seeing Oliveira’s evolution has been inspiring for her.
“It does give me motivation. It’s just like, ‘Hey, man! We’re here! We’re veterans! We’re all still here! It’s cool. It’s definitely cool to watch any veteran still be there years later.”
UFC 274 will go down live on pay-per-view (PPV) from the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona this weekend on May 7.
What do you make of Esparza’s comparisons between herself and Oliveira? And will both leave victorious Saturday night from their respective title bouts? Sound off in the comments!